Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wide-ranging Interview With Tomas Satoransky: "Xavi Pascual Always Wants Me To Play An Aggressive Style Of Game"

Note: This is a translated interview FC Barcelona point guard Tomas Satoransky did with in December of last year. Enjoy.

December 10, 2014

On if he’s met with Lionel Messi yet:
"Not yet. We’re not mingling with [FC Barcelona] soccer players, because they practice at Centro Deportivo, outside of city of Barcelona. The only place where I’ve seen him was Nou Camp, when I went out there to see a [Spanish] league match. And on top of it, the result was a [Barcelona] defeat, so next time I'll have to be careful when selecting the match to go to."

On if it’s true that the Barcelona club is a big sports family:
"[Yes] this notion is true, here in the Palau Blaugrana [arena] there are four sports teams alternating to play and practice: basketball, handball, futsal, and field hockey. So we meet each other here, and sometimes, due to the [frequent] utilization of the arena, the times of our practices have to change."

On his performances as a Barcelona player so far:
"The regular season is in the full swing, every week there are two games and there’s not much time for trying something new, team-wise. Lately, [I feel like] we improved in every game (note: the interview took place the week before a loss to Sevilla in the Spanish ACB league) and we try to work on the details which are crucial to our gameplan. So far, we lost just once, at home with Badalona, so the beginning of the season was very successful. Recently, I spoke with (former Barcelona player and fellow countryman) Lubos Barton; he said it's great that I get to play a lot. Maybe it's because we have just two point guards, and that’s what I liked since the start of the season. Since our first leg of training camp in Andorra you could see that I was going to get a greater amount of [playing time] minutes. Usually, I play around twenty minutes, which is honestly a very pleasant surprise. I hope that (coach) Xavi Pascual has a pretty big confidence in myself. He always wants me to play an aggressive style of game."

On if he had to get into game shape again after a heart rhythm disturbance sidelined him for a while just at the start of the season:
"I was a little afraid that [not being able to practice] somehow manifests itself, but fortunately I had a whole week to practice individually and with the team before I played in a game, so I quickly got into game shape physically and I think I was in form. But you never know how are you going to gel [with teammates] during real games. Barcelona is a club that wants everything to be absolutely alright, so they didn’t let me play sooner before I was ready. That extra week of practices was really helpful."

On if he was nervous before his first Euroleague game in Milan:
"Yes, I was quite nervous then. It was my first game [after the heart rhythm issue] and at once an important Euroleague game in Milan. But immediately after coming out on the floor the nervousness fell. I got into rhythm and we were playing well, which helped me during that first stint on the court. It was a huge game for me, and I was glad we won by 15 points."

On the transition to play in the Euroleague:
"Playing the ACB regular season games for Barcelona is much easier for me than playing Euroleague games. [Before this season] I haven’t played in the Euroleague yet; it‘s the second best basketball league in the world, and is physically more demanding than the Spanish league. I've still got to get used to it a little. So far I've had some good games, in others I didn’t do that well. But playing in the Euroleague was a my dream, so I have an incredible motivation [to do well]. I’m enjoying every game to the fullest, [the great] fans and the whole atmosphere. And as we haven’t lost a game yet, I have nothing to complain about."

On differences between the ACB League and Euroleague:
"The main difference is in the assessment of physical contact. Generally, in Euroleague the refs let the game being played tough, instead of calling a foul on every play – this applies to both defense and offense, for example in the low post. Conversely, in the ACB they whistle every contact, moreover, I think the refs often show a small preferential treatment to Spanish players. In comparison, the Euroleague is a really physical league, plus you play against the best teams in Europe and therefore always against high-quality players."

On what are Barcelona‘s chances of winning the Euroleague:
"Here the ambitions are the biggest possible. Barcelona tries to win the Euroleague each and every year and those ambitions are heightened by the fact that the club is in the Final Four almost every season. So we‘ll try to repeat the title from the year of 2010. In the ACB, Barcelona is also regularly in the finals and thus the pressure [to win] is still growing."

On getting advice from the team’s veteran leaders:
"There is not one concrete player on the team whose job is to communicate with me all the time. The whole team is quite experienced so it depends more on specific situations in which center Ante Tomic, shooting guard J.C. Navarro or guard Marcelinho Huertas can say something to me. [Also] I try to watch Huertas in our practices, he’s an older and more experienced ballplayer so I can learn a lot [just from watching him]. This is one of the great advantages of the club like Barcelona: you can get advice basically from anyone here. That’s why I try to listen to anybody who has something to say."

On changes in his game and style of play:
"The first change is we have a far more complex and more halfcourt-like offense [than in Sevilla], thanks to which we have a lot more options [to use]. We have almost 90 plays in our playbook and game by game we use the ones which the coach gameplans for a specific opponent. For example, in Sevilla we had around ten plays. Our style of game in Barcelona is much more compact. Coach Pascual likes being perfectly prepared for everything, scouting reports-wise as well. For a player, it’s essential to be prepared and focused 100 percent in every moment of the game. On the other hand, I would not want to say that because of this approach I don’t have as much room for improvisation or freewheeling as I had. When there’s an opportunity to attack the basket, we can throw the playbook away, and go play one-on-one. Since when I began playing this season, the coach encourages us to play a little faster, because he knows I like getting out into fastbreaks, and generally I like to play fast. Moreover, we have the types of players who can thrive in such a style."

On if it’s easier to get an assist passing to guys like Navarro, Tomic, et al:
"(Laughs) That's true. Like when we played in Munich, I just came on the court and I had four assists in three minutes without even realizing it. This is a big advantage too, playing with such smart players who know where to go on the floor and – most importantly – then score immediately. [That’s one of the reasons] my stats are good and I’m piling up assists."

On feeling comfortable in his new surroundings in Barcelona:
"I've always loved Barcelona as a city; when we played a game here, I often stayed here one more day [to explore the city]. Of course, as I said I was a fan of Real Madrid growing up, but I respected the whole Barcelona organization and liked its famous logo. Likewise, I appreciate how the people in the organization treat the players, how they behave with each other. They treat each other with great respect, I find them sympathetic. You can say I quickly developed a liking for them and I am completely satisfied here."

On if fans/people recognize him on the street:
"[Yeah but] the soccer player are way more popular. If one of them goes out to downtown, he basically can‘t move from a place because he‘s immediately surrounded by scores of fans. We are not that popular. Of course, people recognize us, even more than in Sevilla, but we can move freely around the city."

On the differences between the life in Sevilla and Barcelona:
"Since Barcelona is a big city and I come from Prague, I'm used to it. Here the life’s faster and less calm because there’s always lots of tourists out there. But basically you can do almost anything here, every day. When we have a morning practice, it‘s great that you can go down to the historic centre or to the beach in the afternoon. Nevertheless, Sevilla also had its own charm and after five years living there it has become my second home."

On looking forward to EuroBasket 2015 and Jan Vesely:
"I'm looking forward to the tournament a lot, especially when I look back on the last summer’s [EuroBasket] Qualification, where we had to battle until last seconds of the last game to qualify. With regards to Honza [Vesely], we talked to each other about the EuroBasket during our [Euroleague] game in Istanbul; I think he's got a positive attitude to represent Czech Republic and is looking forward to EuroBasket a lot, too - as you could tell from his interviews with Czech journalists [when Jan’s Fenerbahce team played] in Lubin, Poland. Hopefully, the Czech national team will be as complete as possible and we’ll put together the strongest team possible - like we did at EuroBasket 2013."

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